The Vevo Effect: The Best And Worst Rap Music Video Edits
By Anton Constantinou
Beloved Vevo – every hip hop lover’s biggest gripe! A video hosting service which has ruined just about every classic song on YouTube through its petty edits in the name of censorship.
Take any track with a bit of swearing in it, and Vevo will make it squeaky clean. Free from references to drugs, guns, violence and sex – basically all the stuff which makes rap rap. Some call it “cleansing”, we call it “whitewashing”. It’s basically the industry’s way of filtering down a genre with a reputation for being profane.
We get it – children have access to YouTube and so there’s a requirement for the content to be safe. However, shouldn’t the responsibility of sensible watching sit with parents? Also, what exactly is “safe” these days? Children are just as likely to encounter a similar level of profanity through television or film. Depending on the company they keep, they may even pick it up in conversation. That doesn’t mean to say you can’t find pure versions of your favourite songs on YouTube. They’re clearly labelled as “explicit” or “dirty”. Although, it’s worth noting that the video quality itself isn’t always up to scratch.
I remember listening to the uncut version of DMX’s Party Up (Up in Here) for the first time and realising how badass it sounded, only to be quickly let down by the video, which seems to replace just about every eff this and eff that with a bark, grunt or groan:
Hats off to the emcees who have actually gone to the effort of re-writing PG editions of their material. 2pac was often exemplary in this regard. I Aint Mad At Cha, for example, sounds just as good even without the swear words:
Video versions of hip hop songs have long differed in their interpretation of the originals: some have extended running times, while others have been cut back for the sole purpose of making it on-air. What’s particularly misleading is when you take a liking to a track from the video, only to later find out that you’ve been listening to a “rare” mix. I made this this mistake once with Oh My God by A Tribe Called Called Quest. What I assumed was the standard radio edit, turned out to be a UK Flavour Radio Remix – which I subsequently acquired through a YouTube Rip. It’s thankfully been renamed on YouTube since.
Separating the best from the worst, we’ve drawn up a list of some of the most telling rap music video edits on record. Vevo, you’ve got a lot to answer for.
Snoop Dogg – Gin and Juice
This one divides even the Highlight Nation camp. For me, the video version of this West Coast classic is far superior as it injects a haunting melody more closely tied to the down-and-dirty feel of the song.
Black Moon – Who Got Da Props
Skip to the end of the video and you’ll find series of awesome shout-outs not featured in the original. Giving kudos is common practice in hip hop, and here provides a much better alternative to a simple repeat of the chorus.
LL Cool J – Loungin’ (Who Do Ya Love)
Who do you love? Are you for sureeeeee? What a catchy hook that was! And it’s one which transformed a pretty standard LL joint into one of the greatest boot-knockers on the planet. The Bernard Wright sample used is pure gold.
The Pharcyde – She Said (Jay-Dee Remix)
California’s answer to Tribe outdid themselves with this one, producing both two separate versions of the song and two videos. The original is warm, upbeat and summery; the Jay Dee Remix, more of a winter vibe, with an infectious sombre tone fitting to the black and white visuals. The latter is by far our favourite.
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – On a Run
Mafioso rap at its finest, spearheaded by one of the original greats. If, like me, your first encounter of the song was through this video, then you’ll have grown to love The Untouchables sample and aggressive pace of the beat. The original, on the other hand, is nowhere near as gritty.
Little Indian – One Little Indian (Buckwild Remix)
Buckwild’s rework is pure magic and really captures the essence of what this song is about. It’s no surprise it was chosen for the video. Neither the album version nor Jay Dee’s Remix come close to topping it:
2pac – Hit Em Up
Strip back the greatest diss track of all time and what do you have? Well, not a diss track. Disappointingly, even the video here is synced to the clean version, which completely takes the sting out of Pac’s onslaught.
MOP – Cold As Ice
A personal favourite of mine let down by continuous muting throughout. MOP without swearing is like gin without tonic – it just doesn’t work.
N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton
Censorship single-handedly ruined this gem. “Punk motherfuckers”got replaced with “sucka dumb”, “gat” with “bass”, and the word “AK-47” was omitted altogether. Worst of all, Ice Cube can’t even mention name of the band due to its usage of the N word.
A$AP Rocky – F**kin’ Problems ft. Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar
How do you “disinfect” a song with the F word in its title? Simple – stick a few asterisks in there and block out every other line.
Ja Rule Feat. Fat Joe and Jadakiss – New York
Okay, swearing we can understand, but since when did words like “clips” or “bang” need to be omitted from a song. More or less everything Ja spits in the video is subject to editing; the same goes for Fat Joe and Jada.
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